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Here’s a look at how surgical procedures have improved over the years.

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Medicine is always evolving, and so too is surgery. The surgical procedure you may have today likely looks different than one your parents or grandparents had in years past. Surgery has become safer and more precise over the years. For the most part, this is thanks to technological advancements.

The good news about these advancements is that you don’t have to be as concerned about undergoing a surgical procedure as people used to be in the past. Of course, no one wants to have surgery. But in many cases, surgical procedures are needed to restore health and comfort. Knowing that surgical advancements have made it safer than ever to have surgery performed can help provide you with peace of mind as you make your decision to schedule a procedure.

Here are some ways surgery has changed in recent decades:

    • Surgery today makes the most of technology. Thanks to inventions like robotics, lasers, laparoscopy and other advancements, surgeries that were once considered complicated are now thought of as routine. Advanced diagnostic tools allow physicians to see inside the body before and while operating, which increases precision. Advanced surgical tools help doctors operate in the least invasive way possible, which helps reduce pain and complications and cuts down on recovery time. Technology also allows doctors to communicate with one another even while they’re in the operating room, which provides them with the opportunity for consultation or assistance as needed.
    • Surgery today results in fewer post-surgical complications. Thanks to medical technology that allows doctors to make smaller incisions and to more precisely pinpoint the area being operated on, the likelihood of post-surgery complications is lower than it used to be. Minimally invasive surgery such as laparoscopy uses very small instruments inserted into tiny incisions. Endovascular surgery allows doctors to perform procedures affecting the heart, brain and circulatory system by threading a catheter through arteries. Robotic surgery is more precise and minimizes incision size compared to traditional surgical techniques. Without the large incisions needed for more traditional surgical procedures, recovery time is typically shorter and there is less pain and scarring.
    • Surgery today requires shorter hospital stays (if at all). Many less invasive surgical procedures allow patients to recover more quickly. Doctors are also more likely to encourage patients to get out of bed to walk or do supervised exercises more quickly, which promotes healing. This means patients don’t have to stay in the hospital as long as they used to in the past. In many cases, patients can go home to continue their post-operative recovery after a day or a few days, rather than spending many days in the hospital. Many surgical procedures that used to require a hospital stay can even be done as outpatient procedures so the patient can return home the same day after a brief stay in the recovery suite.

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Date Last Reviewed: June 16, 2021

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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